Paper, clay, glass, polymer, film, salvaged steel, wood, charcoal: These are just a few of the media featured in “Material Matters,” a group show at Seager Gray Gallery that explores the relationship between artists and their materials. In Mill Valley, California, curators Donna Seager and Suzanne Gray offer the group show’s third iteration, this time highlighting the work of 16 artists in an incredible assortment of styles and subjects.
Surprise comes often. Many of the most striking works aren’t what they seem. Take, for instance, Lucrezia Bieler’s “Lazy Sunday Afternoon” (2015). On first glance, the black-and-white texture looks like crosshatching with pen and ink. In fact, the work is an intricate shape cut from a single piece of black paper using a tiny pair of scissors. Bieler is a master of Scherenschnitte (“scissor cuts”), an art developed in Germany and her native Switzerland.
Similarly, from a few paces away, you might mistake Lia Cook’s “Portrait of Kalle” (2015) and “Connect to Me 2” (2015) for ink stippling on paper. But these are textile works. Cook starts with a digital image, weaves it onto fabric using a Jacquard loom, and often overlays it with neurological scans. Once again, a closer inspection reveals layers of delicate material.
Cut paper and woven cotton aside, the exhibition’s material list runs the gamut from lead crystal and bronze to cedar and milk paint. Aluminum and hemp also make an appearance. As do plexiglass and clay. And feathers and steel. And marble and....
“Material Matters” is on view at Seager Gray Gallery, Mill Valley, California, Jan. 30–Mar. 13, 2016.